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Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 19, 2009
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Matthew Amster-Burton is equal parts Mario Batali, Ray Romano, Dr. Spock of toddler cuisine, and Mr. Spock of toddler logic. He's a national and intergalactic culinary and literary treasure --Steven Shaw, author of Turning the Tables and co-founder of eGullet
Matthew Amster-Burton cast some sort of enchantment over me as I read about his all-too-real-life culinary adventures with his daughter. The proof? I actually found myself thinking" if Matthew were my dad, I don't think I'd mind being a little girl...or even a sock monkey...if I got my share of every meal. --John Thorne, author of Outlaw Cook and Mouth Wide Open
Top Customer Reviews
It does have it's humorous moments and is an easy, enjoyable read. But, for those of us trying to raise kids with similarly adventurous palates, he makes it sound too easy.
Not every anecdote results in his daughter licking her plate clean and asking for more, but his stated goal of raising an adventurous eater is accomplished very early in the book. The rest of it reads like a proud father showing off his daughter's trophy case... "and here's the time she stuffed herself with sushi... and here's the time she ate pad thai for three days straight..."
Yes, I read the entire book, but apart from debunking advice re: baby food. I did not come away with much usable advice for raising my own adventurous eaters. He acknowledges this fact, but it seems like a cop out.
The recipes at the end of each chapter were nicely annotated and looked like they'd be welcomed by my children once they get out of the "no mixed-up food" phase.
Amster-Burton should write a companion "Cooking with Iris" cookbook of his daughter-friendly recipes bolstered with excerpts of his anecdotes. I liked his idea of using an electric skillet for cooking with children.
-Amster-Burton writes about Seattle and makes me feel like an insider, even though I live in Bellevue;
-he references Bread and Jam For Frances multiple times, which is possibly the best book ever written;
-he got a 5 on my humor rating scale, meaning I was laughing out loud to myself AND making my husband listen as I read funny parts aloud;
-the way he talks about food and feeding his family is equal parts Anthony Bourdain and M.F.K. Fisher, which is no easy feat.
What I was drawn to most in this book is the author's respect for both his daughter and the food they make together. Their relationship as depicted in the book is really quite lovely and illustrates that one does not have to dumb down conversations, expectations, ideas or flavors just because one lives with someone who happens to be a toddler.Read more ›
So--in short, as a parenting book/memoir I give it 3 stars, but as a book for foodies, I'd give it 4. Let's call it 3.5 stars.
Amster-Burton is a foodie. He's not just a foodie, he's a professional food writer/restaurant reviewer. He's the fulltime caregiver for his preschooler Iris, the "hungry monkey" at issue, balancing this freelance work with his parental responsibilities.
If you're a foodie, and can stomach (no pun intended) a little parental bragging (probably no worse than you come across in your typical mom blog or phone call with your first-time parent friend or relation), then I think that you'll enjoy Hungry Monkey. However, if you're expecting to find suggestions on how to convince your young child that he should eat mushrooms, then you're going to be disappointed.
The conclusion that he makes is that kids will eat what they want to eat. Yes, offering variety -- persistently -- is good. Yes, get them involved in helping you make the food. But no, don't expect that just because you and your spouse love hot chilies that your progeny will let you indulge your spicy palate at the family table.
But, if you enjoy food and cooking, you will enjoy reading about his culinary explorations and how the addition of a child changed it somewhat, but not completely. So, in that, it's aptly titled. It is a foodie's quest, and I would say that Iris <em>is</em> more adventurous than most children and many adults.Read more ›
Instead, I absolutely loved this book. There are only two Rules and they're pretty dang easy to follow. A week after buying the book, reading it, rereading it, and making my husband read it, my son took his first bite of some of the best gyoza in town. And he loved it. There are some things he doesn't love yet, like ice cream, which makes me suspect that he's a changeling. But all-in-all our whole approach towards feeding our son has morphed into something a lot like the approach we have towards feeding ourselves. Eat good food, and enjoy it!
All in all, a well written book that needs to be read by anyone who is absolutely dreading a future of the white-foods-only phase.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Didn't realize this more of a novel than a cookbook. I barely read through it, because there is more narrative than there are recipes.Published 12 days ago by Rob Dooley
As a frequent listener of his podcast Spilled Milk, I knew I had to read this book. It's hilarious and perfect reading material while on maternity leave. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lillian
Just tried the dumpling recipe and it was fantastic! Can't wait to work my way through the rest. A wonderful book.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book is hilarious and entertaining! A must have for anyone who is about to have a baby and cares about food.Published 10 months ago by Amber B
First of all, I love books that include recipes at the end of each chapter. Big bonus points there ;) Secondly, it is just a lot of fun to read. Read morePublished 11 months ago by immer17
Loved Matthew's other book, Pretty Good Number One, so was excited to read this one! Absolutely loved it (never doubted that I would!). Read morePublished 14 months ago by Jessie Beck
This is a terrific book about "child led" eating, which my daughter is implementing and I now understand. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Carl Bocek